'Wolf packs are dynamic and rarely stay the same'

'Wolf packs are dynamic and rarely stay the same' »Play Video
From left, the alpha female (white-gray in color), a sub-adult wolf, alpha male (black) and a 2011 pup (black) from the Imnaha pack. Image captured on trail camera in Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, in Wallowa County on July 9, 2011.

LA GRANDE, Ore. — Two young wolves from the Imnaha pack have struck out for new territory, and the pack's alpha female gave birth to at least one pup this year, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife said Monday.

No pups have been spotted in the Wenaha pack.

“Wolf packs are dynamic and rarely stay the same size over time,” noted Russ Morgan, ODFW wolf coordinator. “A pack can be healthy despite these natural fluctuations in numbers, as long as a breeding pair of wolves, the alpha male and female, is maintained.” 

Wolf pups are born in mid-April, with litters typically averaging four to six pups. The pups go outside the den and become more active beginning in June.

A state employee spotted the Imnaha pup July 16. No other pups have been seen this year, but wildlife managers said there could be more pups.

Biologists have also confirmed that two more young wolfs left the pack and moved to new areas.

A three-year-old male wearing a radio-tracking collar was located by biologists southeast of Fossil in Wheeler County at the end of July.

ODFW searched the area after a member of the public captured the image of a wolf on his trail camera in the west Blue Mountains. That particular had last been located north of Wallowa on May 10 in Wallowa County.

A second collared wolf, two-year-old male, swam across the Brownlee Reservoir on the Snake River into Idaho on July 18.

This brings to three the number of wolves known to have dispersed from the Imnaha pack. A female wolf went to Washington State last winter when she was 1 1/2 years old.

ODFW does not have evidence that any of these three collared wolves (OR-3, OR-5, OR-9) have joined a new wolf pack yet.

Other uncollared members of the Imnaha pack may have dispersed with the radio-collared wolves or gone their own way, wildlife managers said. The latest observations and data suggest the Imnaha pack now has four adult wolves (three of them with tracking collars), plus the new pup.

Trail cameras have captured images of four adult wolves from Oregon's other established wolf population, the Wenaha pack, in the northern Blue Mountains area this summer. No pups were seen on the footage.

State biologists plan to monitor the pack for pups and to try and collar members from this pack.